Wondering how to make money on Instagram?
According to a recent survey by Facebook, 81% of Instagram users say that the social media platform helps them research products and services. But with over 1 billion monthly users, a somewhat mysterious algorithm, and thousands of creative brands vying for consumer attention, it’s a competitive place to grow an engaged audience and make sales.
Here’s the good news: There are still plenty of ways that businesses can stand out from the crowd, attract and connect with their target customers, and make money on Instagram.
We’ve got five strategies for you to try.
Table of Contents
- Sell Your Products Using Instagram Shopping
- Drive Traffic and Make Sales With the Link in Your Bio
- Add Links To Your Instagram Stories
- Create Product-Focused AR Effects
- Run an Influencer Marketing Campaign
How To Make Money on Instagram: 5 Strategies
For many business owners, Instagram is now a profitable channel that plays a big role in their business models. If you’re just getting started, it can help you turn your passion into a full-time living!
This is a platform where you’re far from limited to giveaways, promo posts, and other tactics that are just getting your brand out there. On Instagram, there are a number of methods you can use to directly drive sales and get that cash flowing into your business.
Thanks to its visual-first design, its high engagement rates, and the shopping mindset of its users, Instagram has always been a powerful channel for e-commerce businesses looking to connect with (and sell to) their target customers. And it’s gotten even better since the rollout of Instagram Shopping, a suite of features that help streamline the buying process.
Whereas in the past, e-commerce businesses had to rely on the link in their bio to make sales, Instagram now makes it possible to “tag” products in your organic feed posts and Stories, or have people discover your products on the Explore page. Thanks to the platform’s checkout feature, when your Instagram followers find a product they love, they can even buy it without leaving the app.
If you’re willing to invest a bit of money, you can even turn shoppable posts into sponsored posts, so more people outside your direct following see, engage with, and even purchase from you.
Here are a few tips on how to make the most of Instagram Shopping.
Experiment With Different Post Formats
The jury’s still out when it comes to which Instagram post format is most effective for driving e-commerce sales. Luckily, you have your pick. You can add shopping tags to your photos, videos, and carousel posts, and product stickers to your Instagram Stories.
If you’re just getting started with Instagram Shopping, it’s a good idea to experiment with these different post formats to find out which delivers the best return on investment for your Instagram page. Some businesses like Vitruvi prefer to use shopping tags on their photo posts, while Glossier often uses a combination of photos, videos, and carousel posts to promote their products.
Another consideration is the complexity of the product you’re selling. For example, if your online store sells a complex or hard-to-describe product, it might make sense to focus on videos, carousel posts, and Stories — formats that allow you to “demo” your products in more detail. You may use different visual content to promote physical products versus digital products.
Catbird uses their Stories to make sales from Instagram by showing videos of what their products look like in “real life,” showcasing features that may be hard to communicate in a photo and answering common questions.
Write Captions That Convert
The simple act of including a call to action in your caption can go a long way when it comes to driving more sales through Instagram Shopping. For example, adding a simple “tap to shop” in your caption will remind your customers they can immediately purchase the product that they’re viewing.
But we recommend taking it a step further and spending some time writing high-quality captions that really convince your followers to make a purchase.
While Instagram is undoubtedly a shopping destination for many, not everyone is ready to take the plunge and make an in-app purchase. By writing longer captions that highlight why you’re selling a product, what’s different about it, and why they should tap the “buy” button, you can build more confidence and convert on-the-fence prospects into customers.
Pair your conversion-friendly caption with some hashtags and you’ll broaden your reach, too!
Create Story Highlights for Different Products
Stories may disappear after 24 hours, but you can use Instagram Stories Highlights to showcase high-performing stories with shoppable “Product” stickers.
This is a really popular strategy among fashion brands like Kith, which uses Instagram Stories Highlights to promote various product collections, or Free People, which highlights its seasonal catalog.
What’s so great about this strategy is that Highlights live front and center on your Instagram profile, so they’re perfect for connecting new visitors to your products in an organic way.
Pro tip: Create pro-looking Instagram Story Highlight icons in Spark Post. It only takes 90 seconds to add an on-brand pop of style to your business account! Learn how below:
Looking to get started with Instagram Shopping? Check out Instagram’s guide for getting started with the feature and share your own products in ways that convert.
Even with Instagram Shopping exploding in popularity, driving traffic through the clickable link in your Instagram bio is an effective way to make sales from Instagram — you can use it to drive traffic to your website, product pages, promotions, and so much more.
Of course, since business owners only have one link to work with, you need to be strategic about how you use it. Here are a couple tips on how to make money on Instagram by optimizing the link in your bio.
Add a Call To Action for the Link in Your Instagram Bio
If you’re using the link in your bio to make e-commerce sales, it’s important to include a call to action that tells users what’s in it for them if they click through. For example, if you’re offering a new promo code or limited time offer, you should include these details in your bio.
The same is true for your Instagram captions. Like with your Instagram Shopping posts, it’s important to include a call to action that inspires your followers to tap into your Instagram account and on your link, like, “Shop this look by clicking the link in our bio.”
Use a Third-Party Link in Bio Tool
To make the most of your link in bio, you can use a third-party tool that lets you compile a number of links all on one site, so you can drive users to more than one page. When choosing a link in bio tool, it’s important to ensure that the website you’re linking to will be optimized for mobile traffic, since people will be clicking it from the Instagram app on their phones.
One such tool is Linkin.bio by Later, which lets you turn your Instagram feed into a clickable, mobile-optimized landing page so your followers can find exactly what they’re looking for. When an Instagram user taps on one of your “posts” through the webpage, they’ll be taken to the most relevant external link.
If you’re a small business owner, this link could be a specific product page or a newsworthy article about you. If you’re a blogger, this may be a blog post on your personal site. You could even link to your Facebook page, YouTube channel, or any other social media profiles your business has.
By creating a shoppable landing page with Linkin.bio, and then driving their followers to visit that initial link, businesses make it easier for their followers to find exactly what they’re looking for.
If you have over 10K followers on Instagram, you’re one of the lucky accounts that can add direct links to your stories and encourage their followers to “swipe up” to shop the item or learn more. Although this feature is a game-changer for businesses hoping to make money on Instagram, there are several ways to make it even more valuable for your brand.
First off, it’s always worth teasing a link in your Instagram Stories. Whether it’s done verbally or through a text caption, providing a quick explanation for why someone should “swipe up” is a good start when it comes to driving more clicks.
Equally, it’s a good idea to add an eye-catching GIF that encourages more “swipe up” activity. There are plenty of ready-made options to choose from, but you can also take a page out of Ban.do’s book and create your own custom “swipe up” GIF.
In addition to calling out your links and adding a GIF, you can also animate your stories to drive more clicks. Get started creating easy vertical videos in one tap. These sales-driving Adobe Spark templates below can help you get started — just tap to edit. To make them move, use the iOS or Android app and tap animation to apply an effect.
See more Instagram Story templates!
There are countless reasons why businesses should create their own AR effects for Instagram Stories, but one of the biggest has to do with showcasing your products and making money on Instagram.
We’ve seen cosmetic brands like Kylie Cosmetics use AR to let their followers virtually try on their makeup, furniture brands like Havenly show what their products would look like in people’s homes, and fashion brands like ASOS create virtual fitting rooms, allowing people to try on shirts, sunglasses, or entire outfits to see how it fits their shape and style.
By creating these custom AR filters and effects where people can “try out” products, businesses are virtually integrating themselves into their followers’ daily lives, which can only help drive more purchases. It makes your online presence a lot more interesting, personal, and engaging, so you can stand out. It’s no wonder why forward-thinking e-commerce brands are incorporating AR into the Instagram experience.
To make things even easier, Instagram recently announced that it’s beta testing a new feature that will allow brands to add AR effects to their product pages! With the new Spark AR integration, users will be able to virtually “try” products before making a purchase in the app.
The feature is currently in a closed beta with a handful of brands, including Warby Parker and Ray-Ban, but it’s certainly a sign of things to come on the photo-sharing app.
The right Instagram influencer partnership can help you get more followers, engagement, and leads — all while making more sales — so it’s no wonder why influencer marketing is on pace to become an $8 billion dollar industry in 2020.
What makes influencer marketing such an effective tool for monetization is that it removes the barriers of traditional Instagram ads. Customers are introduced to your brand from a trusted source (the social media influencer) on an authentic, casual platform (Instagram).
Of course, it isn’t as simple as partnering with a random influencer and watching the money roll in—there’s a strategy to it. Here are two things to keep in mind.
Partner With “Relevant” Influencers
It goes without saying that if you want to be successful with your influencer marketing, you need to find the right influencers for your business—otherwise, you run the risk of partnering with an influencer who doesn’t hold any influence in the specific niche or “vertical” that you’re trying to market to.
For example, if your business sells natural deodorants, it makes sense to partner with an Instagrammer within your niche market—like one who already shares about cruelty-free cosmetics or vegan supplements. That way, your business will be placed in front of people who are already interested in your niche, so it’s easier to convert those followers into customers.
When selecting an influencer, it’s also important to consider their Instagram analytics—beyond vanity metrics like the number of followers and likes they get. Seek out people with high engagement rates and proven success with conversions when possible. Sometimes, micro-influencers (whose follower counts can be as low as 1,000) can actually be the most influential when it comes to driving sales.
Ask Your Influencer Partners To Tag Your Products in Their Posts and Stories
While influencers have been priming their followers to “shop their stories” for ages by adding product URLs and “shop now” CTAs, thanks to a recent update, influencers now have the ability to sell products directly within their posts and stories, just like businesses.
This is obviously hugely beneficial to e-commerce businesses hoping to make money on Instagram through their influencer partnerships or affiliate network because it gives them yet another channel to drive sales within the app.
Until now, influencers had no direct way to sell products on Instagram. Sure, they could ask their followers to click the link in their bio or swipe up on their Instagram Stories, but without the ability to actually tag products in their posts, any sales they generated had to occur on external e-commerce platforms, like your site or an Amazon page.
Now with the new shopping tag, influencers can act as real salespeople for the brands they represent, driving purchases directly within Instagram.
Ready to make money on Instagram? Just start by following these five strategies and you’ll be raking in the dollars in no time! Just remember to track, measure, and learn from efforts so you can grow and improve your strategy in the future.
Taylor Loren is the Head of Content Marketing at Later, the #1 Instagram marketing platform. She was named a LinkedIn Top Voice for social media marketing, and you can follow her on Instagram at @taylor.loren for more Instagram tips and a look inside life at Later.